1 December 2001 - Mexico City – Mexico
After intense efforts by Mexican humanitarian groups as well as US-based Chaldean organizations, the Mexican authorities have finally issued a “preliminary approval” to release all the 145 Chaldean refugees detained in Campeche military base and Mexico City Immigration Prison on charges of entering the country illegally.
The majority of those refugees were taken from Tijuana, on the US-Mexican border, where they were awaiting their asylum applications to enter the United States. The arrests followed the September 11 events, and according to Mexican authorities as a “precautionary measure” against further terrorists’ activities and as requested by the United States.
The tragedy of those Chaldean refugees from Iraq became the focus of galvanized efforts by Chaldean American groups in San Diego, California and Detroit, Michigan as well as by Mexican humanitarian groups. Letters were sent to the Mexican President, UNHCR Commissioner, US-INS Commissioner, US Secretary of State, several US Congressmen and Senators, Mexican Foreign Minster and his consular in Detroit, Mexican Immigration Director and many local and international humanitarian and refugees’ settlement agencies requesting the release of those refugees.
Dr. Nori Barka, Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Charity group - San Diego branch and Mr. Joseph Kassab, Chairman of Immigration and Refugees Committee of the Chaldean Federation of America of Detroit made several contacts with UNHCR – Mexico City representative and Mexican authorities in an effort to find ways to resolve the plight of those refugees. Mr. Kassab also invited Mr. Joel Millman; the Wall Street Journal’s U.S-Mexico Border Bureau Chief to interview some of the relatives of those detained refugees in Detroit area. On November 29 a front-page article discussing the plight of those Chaldean refugees was published by the Wall Street Journal.
During the week of November 15, Dr. Barka led a group of US lawyers and community activists and spent three days in Mexico City negotiating with the Mexican immigration authorities the release of those refugees in the custody of both his Knights of Columbus Charity group and a Mexican humanitarian group called “Casa de Migrante”. Their efforts finally bore fruits and the Mexican authorities accepted the suggested arrangements and issued its “preliminary approval” decree.
The Chaldean people, worldwide, would like to thank both the Mexican as well as the United States authorities for their understanding and help in resolving the tragedy of those refugees who left their original homeland fearing persecution as well as hoping to rebuild their shattered lives in a country where they could find peace and human dignity. Also, thanks should go to all those sincere individuals, the un-named heroes, who worked tirelessly for the release of those refugees.
Chaldeans, are descendents of all the native people of Mesopotamia, whether Chaldeans/Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans, Akkadians, Sumerians ..etc. They’re a living 7000 years old nation that has contributed tremendously to the civilization of Mankind. The homeland of this ancient Christian nation that speaks Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ) is spread between Arab and non-Arab countries. Chaldeans could be found in Arab countries like Iraq (where they make up the third largest ethnic group after the Arabs and Kurds), Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, as well as in non-Arab countries like Turkey, Iran, Georgia, and Armenia. Today, large concentrations of the Chaldeans could be found in many countries, notably the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and many other European countries. For more information about the Chaldeans, please, visit “Chaldeans On Line” website (http://www.chaldeansonline.org).
Chaldean News Agency
Chaldean News Agency